Central scored a late match winner and moved within reach of a Newcastle Rugby League grand final appearance after dropping to last on the competition ladder six weeks ago.
The Butcher Boys extended their unbeaten streak to seven games when lock Thomas Madden crossed under the posts in the dying minutes, breaking the deadlock and helping seal a 30-24 victory over defending champions Souths in Sunday's qualifying semi at Maitland Sportsground.
"They're incredible these young blokes," Central coach Phil Williams said.
With full-time looming and from around 35 metres out Central second-rower Matt Koellner put up a bomb, which was dropped by Souths centre Harry Van Dartel and Madden was on the spot to capitalise.
"It wasn't what we were all expecting [a forward kicking at 24-all], but you've got to turn up [chase] for that play to come off," Williams said.
The Butcher Boys led 24-12 at half-time with Cameron Anderson, Vitale Roqica, Brad Murray and Kurt Donoghoe all claiming four pointers.
Souths rallied in the second half, equalising via Connor Browne and Tori Freeman-Quay in the 57th and 68th minutes respectively.
In Saturday's elimination semi-final Cessnock beat hosts Maitland 14-10.
The Pickers finished stronger, scoring 10 unanswered points courtesy of second half tries to Isaac Upton and Hayden Grainger, but were ultimately unable to reel in the Goannas.
Brendan Hlad, who missed last round with an eye injury, opened Cessnock's account in the eighth minute before winger Joe Woodbury extended the visitors' lead shortly after the break.
Five-eighth Scott Briggs kicked a conversion and two penalties for the Goannas during the first half.
Meanwhile, Townson Oval was deemed unfit for play on the weekend because of recent wet weather and when the same call was also made at St John Oval then Souths transfered their home finals game to Maitland.
FIXTURES: Minor Semi-Final - Souths v Cessnock at Cessnock Sportsground on Saturday; Major Semi-Final - Wests v Central at Harker Oval on Sunday.